It has taken us a while to get settled into our house over the last year-and-a-half as busy as we have been, but a month or so ago I finally got the last room in the house fairly organized, and I told myself that we were finally there. Then I walked back into the living room and looked at our dry, barren backyard.
With Matthew now sprinting to any open door that leads to the outside world, I decided it was finally time to stop living in direct violation of the HOA bylaws and throw together a backyard. I could have paid someone to do it, but it seems that I'm some combination of cheap and crazy - at least looking back on it now. As with most things in life, this hasn't been nearly as easy as it sounded in the beginning, and I still have a long way to go, even with our tiny yard.
I should have seen this coming, since our house was one of the last built in our neighborhood and was therefore almost certainly a parking lot and dumping ground for our builder for a few years. The Bible would have you believe that a wise man would build his house on rock instead of sand, but we seem to have found a way to do both. I didn't realize this until I rented some highly ineffectual equipment from Home Depot.
To be fair, I can't totally discredit the equipment, because there was a little user error involved in the beginning. Three of us (I, Ray, and Ray's truck) rented a tiller for four hours, and the first hour or so was wasted on trying to start it up and then figuring out that you had to flip the front wheel up in order for the tines to actually hit the ground. Even then, it was sort of like trying to carve your name in cement with your fingernails, so we had to spray down the whole yard to soften it up enough to make an impact at all.
Having successfully transformed my yard from a dusty wasteland to a muddy mess, I moved on to the trenching. Ray and his truck were back the next day to help me on the 25-minute haul from Home Depot to Maricopa, and Ray took the first stab at cutting a simple 8-inch trench. I was around the corner hacking away at some buried concrete the builders were nice enough to leave directly in the path of my planned pipe to the backyard, and after about five minutes I heard a loud clanking sound. The first trencher had broken, either because it was old or because my 1/16,000th-of-an-acre backyard/marble quarry had gotten the best of it.
After a return trip to Home Depot (where they carted out several trenchers before they found one that actually worked, which didn't increase my confidence), I was back at it, this time with a trencher designed to dig 12-inch trenches. I think at best I got about 4", which was at least a start. (At the same time, our neighbors over the back wall were having a pool party and probably wanted to strangle me). So, despite my hopes that I'd spend one Saturday on trenching, I spent the past two weeks finishing it all of by hand and gaining newfound empathy for slave labor in Indiana Jones movies (Karin actually came out & laughed at me the other night because I was working so hard to clear about three inches of trench). I'd probably still be working on it were it not for the fact that Karin's dad was here last week and slipped out there a few times to hack away while I was at work.
Now it's on to the sprinkler system. I've never done this before, but I'm hoping it works the first time (I'm always amazed when things work). Again, nothing is as easy as you'd expect, but sometimes you can get lucky. Someday when you all visit (and I know you want to - I mean, how could you miss the Salsa Festival or random concerts by Air Supply at the casino on the local reservation), we might actually have grass and not a three-inch-deep layer of dust on everything on our patio.